Cybersecurity summit aims to help FSB, Miami create experts who can go beyond

Participants talk at the Cybersecurity Summit

In an ever-increasingly digital business world, the need for workers skilled in cybersecurity will only continue to grow. As part of Miami University President Gregory Crawford’s Boldly Creative initiative, the university is working toward creating a Center for Cybersecurity and a degree program within it.

Part of that process took place in the Farmer School on Monday as faculty from information systems and analytics, computer science/software engineering, and political science met with business, education, and government experts to work on developing the basis for a cybersecurity curriculum.

“What can we do at Miami to be different and unique from what all the other cybersecurity programs are doing, but yet, serve that marketplace where there's this huge growing demand for talent?” ISA chair John Benamati asked. “That’s what we're trying to figure out.” 

Over the course of the day, the participants brainstormed ideas for what a future cybersecurity graduate will look like, how the program could produce value beyond supplying talented graduates, and what business and government partners can bring to the collaborative relationship.

“The challenge for us is how do we take advantage of that liberal arts education and that kind of context and setting but infuse even more technical and analytical workforce passions into that experience,” College of Arts and Sciences associate dean Patrick Haney explained. “Part of why we're here today is to talk about how can we build a different animal altogether, one that sort of understands some of those skills, but other skills as well, to really make those students leaders in this area and in the future.”

Chip Wolford knows the need for cybersecurity leaders. As a managing director at Protiviti, he’s responsible for all the company’s regulated data and keeping it secure, a role he expects to only grow in the future. “Every company today is a technology company and I think increasingly, technology involves the exchange of data, the collection of massive amounts of data, consumer data, protected data. So there's going to be a need to protect that.”

Wolford, a 2007 Farmer School grad and a member of the ISA Advisory Board, was among experts from IBM, EY, Messer, and others who want to see the talent pool not just increase, but become better-suited for the needs of the future.

“Cybersecurity is not just one role. It's a lot of different roles. And as the world becomes more technologically integrated, the need for that type of skill and talent is really exponentially increasing. All of the organizations that are here today, we have a vested interest because we're looking to keep the talent pipeline flowing,” he said. “Right now there's just not enough people who have the level of understanding that we would hope for right out of school.”

The summit is part of Phase 1 of the initiative, which will determine the shape of the future program and identify potential partners. In Phase 2, Miami will recruit a director and faculty lines needed to bring the program to fruition.

“We know we need to head down this path,” Benamati noted. "And I think in the very near future, if not already, security is also going to be everybody's business.”

Discussion during the beginning of the summit
Two participants in the cybersecurity summit talk during the first breakout session